Media release

Communitech and Digital Main Street expand details of Future Proof program

KITCHENER, ONT., August 20, 2020 —Communitech, a partner of Digital Main Street alongside FedDev Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Invest Ottawa and NORCAT, is proud to announce expanded details of the Future Proof program.

"Main street businesses are the heart of Waterloo Region and communities across Southwestern Ontario. We're honoured to be able to support them through Digital Main Street's Future Proof programming,” said Iain Klugman, CEO and president, Communitech. “These innovative services will support the digital transformation of these vital businesses and help build prosperity in our communities." 

When COVID-19 forced businesses across Ontario to close this spring, many began looking for new and creative ways to attract and serve customers. Earlier today, the Digital Main Street team announced expanded support through the Future Proof program, through three initiatives: Transformation Teams, the Digital Main Street Lab and the Community Collaboration Project.

Details of these expanded services include:

Individual business evolution: Transformation Teams will offer transformation plans to small businesses through an interdisciplinary team of marketing professionals, web designers and creators. These Transformation plans will help to create new businesses models, develop and implement digital marketing strategies, maximize digital tools and more. 

Over a period of up to six weeks, each business will work with a team of highly trained students and recent graduates that will include a web designer, digital marketer, graphic designer, UX/UI designer and copywriter. This team will offer tailor-made plans for deep digital transformation and give each business owner the tools to maintain their upgraded online presence. The Transformation Teams program will provide free and direct support to businesses, while providing on-the-job training to the participating students and recent graduates. Applications are now open. 

Street-by-street renewal: The Digital Main Street Lab is focused on building collaborations between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change for businesses. Projects that offer new ways for customers to access main street businesses are of interest. Successful projects will be eligible for up to $25,000 in support for implementation. Applications for the Digital Main Street Lab will be live until Oct. 31, 2020. 

Regional focus: The Community Collaboration Project will connect regional innovation centres and other community-based organizations to identify common issues facing small and medium-sized main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions to these issues for implementation. To ensure that all Ontario communities have equal access to support, the Community Collaboration Project will be implemented by regional innovation centres across the province. Haltech, iiON, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory, Innovation Guelph, Launch Lab, MaRs, NWOIC, RIC Centre, Spark Centre, SSMIC, TechAlliance, VentureLAB, and WEtech in addition to NORCAT, Communitech and Invest Ottawa are all proud partners in the execution of the Digital Main Street Future Proof programs. 

Future Proof complements two recently announced programs, ShopHERE and Ontario Grants: 

ShopHERE, which provides independent small businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to get selling online right away. More info here.

Ontario Grants, which provides main street businesses with $2,500 Digital Transformation Grants, and municipalities/local communities with grants to implement a Digital Service Squad. More info here. 

“Ontario’s small businesses are at the heart of our economy and will play a key role in its recovery. That is why we have invested in Digital Main Street - to help entrepreneurs take advantage of the increase in online commerce by supporting them to execute digital transformations, and ultimately succeed at doing business in a digital world. The Future Proof Program will help protect Ontario’s main streets, support local jobs and help our economy come back stronger than ever.” — The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. 

“Helping Main Street get back on its feet starts with supporting local small businesses to grow and adapt to today’s world. The Future Proof program will provide the support small businesses need to transform their operations to meet the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow.” — The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. 

“Providing businesses with the tools they need to adapt, recover and grow is a key part of our economic recovery plan throughout reopening and into the future. The Future Proof program offered through Digital Main Street is just one example of how Ontario’s recovery will be driven by innovation.” — The Honourable Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 

“COVID-19 has pushed many small businesses to the brink. They need new ways to engage with their customer base. The goal of our Future Proof program is to enhance the options available to Ontario small businesses and enable them to adapt in new ways to help them flourish.” — John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas


For more information or media inquiries, please contact:

Candace Beres
Manager, Public Relations, Communitech

About Communitech

Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. 

Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways.

  • Communitech is a place – the centre of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool tech and great companies.
  • Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate.
  • Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to help companies go from a small startup to a global giant.

About Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street is a program and service that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and the Digital Service Squad, a team of highly trained recent graduates who help main street businesses grow and manage their business through the adoption of digital tools and technology. Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. Digital Main Street is also supported by a group of strategic corporate sponsors, including Google, MasterCard, Rogers, Microso, and Shopify.